The Effect Of Yoruba On The Spoken English Of Mushin Market Women

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The Effect Of Yoruba On The Spoken English Of Mushin Market Women


This study examined the effect of Yoruba language on the sound system of spoken English language among the indigenous Mushin Yoruba market women in Lagos. It was to find out the features that distinguish Lagos Yoruba accent from the received pronunciation. The speech of ten selected market women from Mushin Lagos was used. Market women who were native of Mushin and who have been doing business in Lagos market were sampled. Phonological approach was adopted using snowball sampling technique. It was discovered that phonological features of Nigeria English such as substitution, under-differentiation, spelling pronunciation, epenthesis and simplification of consonant cluster were the common features found in the oral English of the samples. The English of the sample has been affected by their L1.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

This study is carried out to examine the effect of Yoruba on the spoken English of Mushin market women in Lagos state. The need to examine and correct the wrong pronunciation of English words in many Nigerian market women, particularly among the Mushin market woman in Lagos demands extra effort and great attention. This is because, it is observed that this problem is the result of the features found in their indigenous languages which are transferred to the sound system of the English language. Their English phonetics reflects the structure of the sound system of their mother tongue (Osisanwo 2009). With respect to this, we shall discuss the term phonology.

Phonology is the sound system of a language. It is the study of the properties of the sound system of a given language. It is the systematic study of how the speech sounds function and are organized in human languages. Hyman (1975:1) cited by Osinanwo (2009:3) asserted that, the goal of phonology is to study the properties of the sound system which speakers must learn and internalize in order to use their language for the purpose of communication. According to Oyebade (1998:2) phonology is the scientific study of the arbitrary vocal symbol used in human speech and the pattern into which these symbols produce intelligent, meaningful utterances.

Akmajian et al (2008:109) asserted that ‘phonology is the subfield of linguistics that studies the structure and patterning of sound in human language’. Hence, speakers of Nigerian English are still facing a lot of pronunciation problems as a result of their L1 influence on their spoken English (Alabi, 2007). So many works have been done on the segmental features of the phonology of Nigerian English such as Utin (2009) based on the Anang accent of English language.

Mushin lies on the railway from Lagos and at the intersection of roads from Lagos, Shomolu, and Ikeja. After the 1950 independence from the Great Britain, there became large migrations to the sub-urban areas. This led to intensive overcrowding as a result, poor sanitation and inadequate housing lead to poor living conditions. However, since the rise of industrialization in Nigeria, Mushin has become one of the largest beneficiaries of the industrial expansion. Their local commercial enterprises include spinning and weaving of cotton, shoe manufacturing, bicycle and motorized-cycle assembly, along with the production of powdered milk (Jowith, 1991).

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Despite the fact that various studies has previously been conducted on the phonology of Nigeria English, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages respectively, however, research gaps exists in the area of the effect of Yoruba on the spoken English of Mushin Market women in Lagos which this study sets to bridge. It is obvious that language has gain a lot of ground among the Nigeria languages, however it is one of the major indigenous language in Nigeria. Therefore this study is set out to find the effect of Yoruba language particularly the Mushin Yoruba dialect on the phonology of English. That is, it is to check the influence of the Mushin Lagos Yoruba dialect on the sound system of the English language at the segment level. In other words, this work will find out the English phonemes which are mispronounced by the Mushin indigenous Yoruba market women.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The aim of this study is to find out the effect of Mushin Yoruba dialect on the phonology of standard British English (SBE). That is, the changes that may likely occur as a result of the contact of the Mushin Lagos Yoruba dialect and English. In other words, this work is to search for the features that distinguish the phonology of Nigeria English variety from the received pronunciations. These features shall be identified from the recorded speech collected and analyzed. We hope to provide solution to bridge the gap in the differences.

1.4 Justification of the Study

A lot of research works have been done on phonologic interferences. This work is to add to the efforts that have been made. Our concentration is on this topic because much has not been done particularly on the phonological interference of Mushin Lagos Yoruba dialect and the English language. Also the cosmopolitan nature of Mushin Lagos Yoruba draws our interest. This work shall help the Mushin indigenous Yoruba market women and other readers on their spoken English.

1.5 Scope of the Study

Phonology can be handled from different angles; for instance, segmental aspect can be treated, attention can be paid to only suprasegmental aspect and the two levels can be jointly discussed. This research work shall direct its focus on the segmental phonology. Due to time, financial constraints and for effective result we shall limit our study domain to only Mushin market in Lagos. Twenty market women shall be tested, out of which ten shall be selected. The selection shall base on deepness in Yoruba language spoken.

1.6 Methodology

This work shall make use of recorded speech of ten selected market women from Mushin market, Lagos. Samples are selected using snowball sampling techniques as a result of the limited number of accessible market women. Only market women that are native of Mushin in Lagos and have spent at least two years doing business in the market are sampled.

A theoretical application shall be phonemic theory, a phonological approach will be explored to analyze the samples. In this regard, elements such as substitution, under-differentiation, spelling pronunciation, epenthesis and simplification of consonant cluster that constitute the phonological features of Nigerian English will be deplored. Each of these elements will be applied across the data and any deviation from the SBE will be under lined. Tabular form shall be used for the comparison.

Finally the sound system of English and Yoruba shall be treated. This will enable us to know the differences between the sound systems. Also it will assist us to determine the causes of the effect of which may likely occur in the spoken English of indigenous Mushin Yoruba market women as L2 learners. The phonology of Nigerian English, phonetics and phonology shall be discussed in the next chapter.

1.7 Research Hypotheses

To aid the successful completion of the study the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;

  1. H0: Yoruba language does not have any significant impact on the spoken English market women in Mushin
    H1: Yoruba language does have a significant impact on the spoken English of market women in Mushin
  2. H02: Yoruba language does not have any effect on the eloquence level of market women in Mushin.
    H2: Yoruba language does have a significant effect on the eloquence level of market women in Mushin

1.8 Scope And Limitation Of The Study

The scope of the study covers the impact of Yoruba language on the spoken English market women in mushin, in the cause of the study, the researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

(a) Availability of research material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.

(b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

(c) Finance:

The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.

1.9 Definition Of Terms


Language is the ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so, and a language is any specific example of such a system. The scientific study of language is called linguistics. Questions concerning the philosophy of language, such as whether words can represent experience, have been debated since Gorgias and Plato in Ancient Greece.

Spoken English

English is the primary language of the international business world. Knowing how to speak English properly is paramount to your success in business.

Yoruba language

Yoruba (Èdè Yorùbá) Yoruba is a member of the Volta-Niger branch of the Niger-Congo family of languages. It is spoken by about 28 million people in southwest Nigeria, Benin, Togo, the UK, Brazil and the USA. It is one of the four official languages of Nigeria, along with English, Hausa and Igbo.

1.8 Organization of the study

This research work is organized in five chapters for easy understanding as follows

  • Chapter one is concern with the introduction which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study it’s based thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion And Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the impact of Yoruba on the spoken English of mushin market women.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges Yoruba language and in English language among Mushin market women.

5.2 Summary

Language contact is a sociolinguistic phenomenon which has both positive and negative consequences. In Nigeria its salutary effects are seen in people’s bilingualism, multilingualism, and could also be seen as the pathway to good job opportunities. Proficiency in English has become a status symbol. Through English came globalization which also brought advancement in Science and Technology. Democracy became a regular news menu on the world‟s political programmes, thus opening our eyes to democratic cultures and best practices.

Nigerian languages got expanded and enriched in all their aspects through borrowing. Nigerian cultures also got enriched. These are, certainly, wonderful blessings. However, the negative consequences of languages in contact seem to be more pervasive. Yoruba ethnography of greetings is facing threat of extinction, as the rich culture of greetings is being overtaken by English greetings. The Yoruba are experiencing language interference challenges, language endangerment and threat of extinction. Linguistic suicide and murder are taking their tolls on Nigerian languages. Cultural endangerment is also being faced. Neocolonialism is now the order of the day. In this respect, “languages in contact” is not a blessing but a scourge. Effective language planning and language documentation may be the panacea to language and cultural endangerment, occasioned or caused by languages in contact.

5.3 Conclusion

We have been able to show that the areas of differences between the two languages are veritable sources of confusion that are identified distinctly with the spoken Yoruba/ English bilinguals. Some notable areas of differences covered in this study further confirmed that most of the inadequacies found in the speaking of the Yoruba/ English bilinguals are traceable to the fact that this category of students has already mastered the use of their own language before they start to learn the English language formally in the school.

5.4 Recommendations

From the results of this research, the following recommendations were made. It is advisable that market women in Mushin market strive harder to learn and speak English language both within and outside the market. The market women should also be assisted by their children in learning how to speak English, Furthermore, the market women need to be enlightened on why they should be able to use English language fluently. They should use their leisure hours to read, newspapers and magazines at home.

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